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Eliminating outsourcing confusion with ICON's new framework

Posting date: 26/01/2023
Author: Inside ICON

The CRO market has seen an unmistakable uplift in demand for its services in recent years. The call for personalised medicine, pricing pressures, and increasing complexity in clinical trials are just a few of the factors fuelling this demand. Forecasts from McKinsey & Company show that the global CRO market could hit a value of $46 billion by 2025, due to the growth of both established pharma organisations and smaller biotechnology companies.

Providing services to the healthcare, biotechnology, government and pharmaceutical industries places the CRO market in a critical position. Ensuring effectiveness and productivity is an all-important goal for organisations such as ICON.

While the market has evolved and taken on a new meaning, the terminology we use to define CRO outsourcing services and models hasn't changed in line. There's confusion and uncertainty and we're setting out to eliminate that.

Why is there confusion around outsourcing models?

The surge in demand for CRO services has led to more organisations entering the market. However, very few provide a full-service model and the market is becoming increasingly fragmented. While fragmentation means companies can access the model that is more suitable to their clinical trial, the industry has failed to clearly define each model.

One of the greatest challenges of not having an industry-wide agreement is that it inhibits understanding between partners. There needs to be a clear definition if pharma, biotech and healthcare companies are to accurately assess the efficacy of each model.

ICON's proposed framework 

As more investment is funnelled into CRO services, we must have our sights trained on productivity. ICON has outlined a new sourcing model framework that categorises the distinct approaches that support clinical trials. Our combined analysis with Tufts CSDD and the input from 18 biopharmaceutical companies revealed a new spectrum of models, from full-service to in-house.

a person making notes on a clipboard

The framework is not only a useful tool for those seeking CRO services but is also crucial for suppliers. It outlines whether accountability lies with the vendor or sponsor, both in terms of timelines and deliverables.

Ensuring that the outsourcing marketplace has clarity, particularly as protocol complexity shows no signs of letting up and pharma companies ramp up their focus on innovation.

How will this impact the clinical development market?

Consistency is the first word that should spring to mind. Without this, it becomes difficult to understand the scenarios where each sourcing model would be most suitable, and whether that suitability might change throughout the project lifecycle. For vendors, this means they're in a position to address quality management, reduce cost of clinical trial delivery, improve cycle times and meet patient recruitment targets.

Outlining the framework and establishing the correct terminology is the first step towards more effective outsourcing partnerships. It allows sponsors to accurately meet the customer's unique needs and enhance the analysis of drug development.

The analysis doesn't stop there. The partnerships we've made and the results we've uncovered are just the first steps in addressing the confusion. We're looking to expand our research, starting with an analysis of clinical trial performance outcomes.

Expand your experience with ICON

Our ultimate goal is to bring life-changing medicines and devices to market. There are many avenues of analysis we believe we need to take to achieve this, one is improving the effectiveness of clinical development.

We believe that our partnerships with industry-leading organisations combined with our growing network of success-driven employees will enable us to hit this goal.

If you want to be involved, explore CRA careers, project management jobs or clinical trial support roles at ICON and discover more about the cutting-edge research our teams are working on.

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